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ROD PATERSON - "Songs from the Bottom Drawer" - Greentrax CDTRAX117

Rod Paterson sings Burns. Need I say any more? The singers who can interpret the songs of the Immoral Bard better than this man can be counted on the fingers of a mitten and his ear for a good song and the ability to deliver it are faultless.

Rod describes the songs on this album as ones which have attracted him at various times for various reasons over the last fifteen years. He hasn't recorded or sung them before, but laid them aside for a project such as this.

Enter stage left Fairy Godfather Ian Green and with one wave of his wish-fulfilling label, Rod's been able to transform these "Songs from the Bottom Drawer", as he calls them, into a shiny silver disc. And what a good job he's made of it. Aided and abetted by an all-star backing band of Norman Chalmers on concertinas, whistles and instamatic; Wendy Stewart on harps and vocals; Mike Katz on pipes, whistle and bass; Tony McManus on acoustic guitar and Jack Evans on acoustic guitar, bass, whistles and ukelele (note: this is not a misprint), the album cooks from start to finish.

But don't let the reggae-influenced first track of "Mary Morison" give you the idea that this is Burns-For-The-Sake-Of-It, with the link to the poet being in name only. There are a couple of songs here done in a version considered now to be as near to authentic as we're likely to reach without carbon-dating and a long ladder and you know in your heart that Rod Paterson cares too much for his work to allow a No Holds Bard attitude to creep in.

You'll find some old favourites and some surprises. You might expect "Parcel of Rogues", "Green Grow the Rashes, O" and "A Man's a Man", but there are also some you're unlikely to hear at your local Rotary Club Burns Supper, such as "Guidwife Coont the Lawin'" and "Gloomy December", and there's an enjoyable visit to The Gray Twins - not Ronnie and Reggie - but Wee Willie and Duncan making their recording debut together.

Rod is in excellent voice throughout in what is a belated but very worthy and enjoyable addition to the Burns canon.

Alan Brown
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This album was reviewed in Issue 19 of The Living Tradition magazine.